Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Bright Side

Although John Edwards has money, a large and competent campaign staff, a good organization, and a fair chance to win the Iowa caucuses, the corporate media in tandem with their alter ego, NPR, have fixated on Clinton v. Obama, diligently ignoring Edwards, relegating him for the time being to the category of the also rans Richardson, Biden, and Dodd. [That category is just a few steps removed from oblivion, the place they’ve consigned the two candidates with the most to say, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel.] Could there be a pattern here? Might it have something to do with being insufficiently corporate friendly? Anyway, in Edwards’ case at least, there’s a bright side to he media’s neglect. Should he or any of his campaign workers be tempted to say something stupid about the Bhutto assassination or about Pakistani politics generally, at least no one would know of it. Not so, with the media’s favorite daughter and son.

With a level of tactical dexterity equal only to her husband’s, Hillary Clinton switched abruptly from promoting a warm and cuddly image, last week’s implausible message, to projecting competence in handling world affairs --based presumably on on-again off-again pillow talk. In addition, she has also taken every opportunity to proclaim her affinities with Benazir Bhutto. Lucky for her that the corporate media and NPR, if they know better, won’t point out how corrupt Benazir and her entourage were. What is more telling though is how thoroughly Clinton’s (current) line accords with that of the Bush government. It was Washington that engineered the (now failed) liaison between Bhutto and General Musharref – fearing that their man in Islamabad is too unreliable or too weak or both to be counted on to do their bidding on his own. Since they were wary of the man Pervez Musharref deposed, Nawaz Sharif, Bush policy makers had no choice but to pin their hopes on a Bhutto/Musharref alliance. Evidently, this is (or was) another Cheney/Bush adventure that Hillary Clinton supports. Now, like so many others, it too has failed. The only difference is that, in the face of yet another example of Cheney/Bush incompetence, Hillary can say that the world and nation now need her competence more than ever. The fact that she can say it with a straight face demonstrates the value of having a man like Bill for a role model and helpmate.

Is Obama on the Cheney/Bush page too? It looks like it, though it’s hard to say, since Obama is not an easy man to pin down – on anything. But his buddy and close advisor, David Axelrod, did have a prime stupidity to offer. He said it’s all Hillary’s fault. Why? Because she voted to authorize Bush to make war against Iraq, and the Iraq War led the United States to neglect its war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then this neglect led, in turn, to Pakistan’s political crises. Never mind that Axelrod’s argument is weak on cause and effect. It is also ignorant. Were it not for the failed war in Afghanistan and the vicissitudes of the so-called War on Terror, the internecine struggles between Musharref, Bhutto, and Sharif would doubtless have proceeded differently, though perhaps no less violently. Without doubt, American meddling has stirred up some of the disasters waiting to happen in the Pakistani political culture. But, in all likelihood, the level of unhelpful (and misguided) interference would have been worse had the U.S. been more invested in its Afghanistan war; and the consequences would have been worse. As Obama and Axelrod should know, but probably don’t, that war is even more unwinnable than Bush’s Iraq War. The U.S. never had a chance of establishing a state in Afghanistan that would be to its liking. It would be all but impossible for any outside power to establish any unitary and enduring state there. The Russians couldn’t do it in the waning days of the Soviet empire, with many more troops than the U.S. would or could have sent. Do Axelrod or Obama really think it would have been different after 9/11 had the likes of General Petreus been in charge?

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